Guest Post: Peter Dybing on Directionally Challenged Pagans

Guest Post: Peter Dybing on Directionally Challenged Pagans September 3, 2010

Some of us have had the experience of helping to set up a ritual site and the gentle amusement that comes with a group of directionally challenged Pagans debating witch direction is witch.  It also seems that the larger the gathering the more vocal the debate.  We, well known practitioners, unsure of the directions, each slightly embarrassed.

While this situation has brought me much amusement, as a directionally challenged Pagan my self, it also serves as a great metaphor for our own Pagan paths.  Our community has grown ever more complex with the passage of time. Constantly we are faced with choices as to what direction to send our energies in service to our communities.

Once we place our own practice, covens, and families first we are then confronted with a “witches brew” of alternatives.  What next, interfaith, environmental work, music, public information, teaching, legal advocacy, direct action, education?   What is a directionally challenged Pagan to do?

Metaphorically, each direction represents a different path, but how to decide? One could gather the facts, view the alternatives, consider the appeal of each and make a decision.  Yet, looking outward for answers on how to direct our spiritual intent seems counterintuitive.

Consider instead looking first at our selves, taking a sincere look at our skills, abilities and personal traits. Seeking next the counsel of our Pagan kin, these sisters and brothers to whom we have sacred ties are well equipped to provide invaluable feedback and insight.

Finally, if the arrow on the metaphorical compass still wavers, seek out Elders of the Pagan community.  To often these Crones and Sages are only consulted on matters of import to the entire community. It is their season for wisdom and we should take advantage of all that they have to offer.

These suggestions equate to being the only directionally challenged Pagan who  brings a compass to a ritual. Sometimes we all just need the right tools prior to taking action.

In service to the Goddess,

Peter Dybing
First Officer Elect
Covenant of the Goddess

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  • I think this is a great reminder that we should be engaged in some service to the community beyond our own immediate faith family and practice.

    I do think, though, that finding elders to guide us is difficult. Between the growth of the last decade, the generational differences between Pagans and the number of people assuming positions of wisdom and/or authority that they are not suited for, we have largely become a movement of spiritual orphans.

    Even with the prevalence of Pagan groups today, finding a faith community is still so hard. I think that’s why we’ve become so focused on authors: books are easily accessed and the printed word is consistent and transparent. You don’t have to worry about a book judging you, using you or ignoring you.

  • I go for the ‘decide what direction means what for this ritual, and then as part of pre-ritual briefing explain it AND your reasons to the group’ (or include it in handouts, along with word to chants and any call-and-response parts).

    While it may be a ‘teachable moment’, treat it more as work to build the group mind for the ritual. Some may disagree with your decisions and/or your reasons, but even if they’d still have made different decisions everyone will know what’s going an and why, and will be on the same page.

  • Peter Dybing

    In Star Foster’s comments there is important insight. Elders ask yourselves, are we accessible? do we judge?, if asked for insight do we respond in perfect love and trust?

    Does “I think that’s why we’ve become so focused on authors” reflect a generations quest for the knowledge and experience of long time practitioners with out insight into their fallibility?

    Do we have a responsibility to ensure that Mother and Maiden have access to the wisdom of the Crone?

  • On the more literal aspects of direction as it pertains to ritual, my rule of thumb is whoever is conducting the rite, should be sure that they know which direction is which. It’s relatively inexpensive to invest in a compass, you can get them as a keychain so that it’s always easily accessible.

    On the metaphorical aspects of finding direction, I agree. In fact, even beyond ‘reading’ as many newcomers are inclined to start with, they should instead be reaching out both to the Holy Powers around us, as well as to fellow pagans.

    There’s a significant difference in reading about religious practice, versus actually trying to experience it.